Chapter 22-Broken or Bent
Song: Just Give Me A Reason-Pink
Two weeks had passed since Damien found out about Michael and made those promises to be there for us. Dan had his surgery and had spent a week in recovery, I did notice that Brooklyn was with him a lot, and didn’t fail to notice the smile he had on his face when she was around. I have a feeling she was going to bring that light back into Dan.
He thinks I didn’t notice the change in him or in his relationship with Danika, I could see the way he was would shelter her or hold back from saying what he wanted. I would see the pitiful looks she would give him when he didn’t jump up and do what she wanted. Dan had the aura of darkness around him when she was around, and when he was told he would never walk again.
Now when I look at him with this new girl, he looks relaxed and happy. The Doctor said the surgery was a success and Dan has a strong possibility to walk again. He was still worried about not being the man he used to be, but Brooklyn was right there to tell him he doesn’t need legs to be a man. I really like this girl and that she doesn’t let Dan wallow in self pity.
Mom said Dan was going to need to have someone provide for him while he’s in physical therapy. So I said we should have Brooklyn do it, she was from a Texas and only and hour away from Odessa. She’s also done with her time here in a few weeks, mom loved the idea and one day asked her about it. Brooklyn said she would love to and accepted, mom and Dad would provide her with a place to stay so she could be closer if she was needed during her off time. I really do have the best parents.
“So does he know your parents hired Brooklyn? Damien asked from beside me. He was holding my hand and rubbing his thumb against my knuckle. We’re laying in Damien’s hospital bed avoiding the big fat elephant in the room, we’ve skirted around this conversation because neither of us wanted to think about it.
Now, it’s unavoidable because Damien is getting released tomorrow and gets to meet his son. We both agreed bringing our son to the hospital was not the best for him since he’s so little. I told him all about Micheal and showed him pictures, a few times when I was back at the hotel with him Day would call and I’d put the phone on speaker so both my guys could hear each other.
Michael would coo and smile, even at a month old he is the smartest and happiest boy. Going back to Damien’s question about Dan and Brooklyn,
Mom and Dad are worried about how Dan will react. “No, Mom and Dad want to wait till he gets home and settled. She’ll be here in three weeks.” Damien could see the spark flying between the two of them, and he’s just as ecstatic.
“You know he’s going to freak out right?” I did know, especially if the situation with Danika isn’t resolved.
“I’m going to have to track down Danika and make her fess up. He doesn’t deserve to pine over a girl who has treated him like shit for five years.” Damien fixes me with a pointed stare, one that says stay out of it.
“Do you think that’s a good idea? I get that Dan needs his closure so he can move on but I don’t think he would want you meddling.”
“Probably not but as far as she knows I don’t know anything and she would be civil with me. I just need to see her and her guilt ridden face. I need my own personal closure.”
“I know you do.” Damien doesn’t have to say it, just by the shimmer in his caramel orbs. He still loves me. He wraps his unslinged arm around my shoulders and gently guided me to his shoulder. “You should get some sleep, before you have to head back to the hotel.”
He’s right, I’m exhausted since I haven’t slept much. I’ve had to divide my time so I can be with my son but also be at the hospital for my brother and Damien. My parents, Jamie and Olivia have all been great with taking Michael in shifts.
“Okay, but you need to get some rest as well.” I tell him through a yawn. Damien covers us both up with the blanket .
“I’ll be fine. I’ve slept in worse places then this.” He answers and I can only imagine those places. I want him to talk to me about it, but he shuts down every time. I get that he doesn’t want to want to remember but someday he’s going to have to face his demons, even if it’s the biggest one of all.
I was on my way to slumber town when I hear Damien softly say my name. “Emily?”
“I’m sorry.” His voice is so full of remorse it makes my heart ache for him all over again. I lift my hand and cup his cheek, weeks old scruff scratches my hand.
“You have nothing to apologize for Day.” His eyes fill with unshed tears.
“I do though, I ran away when you needed me most and left you to find comfort in another man. I’m so sorry he hurt you, Baby and if I could take away all that pain he caused you then I would.”
“Damien, you enlisting was something we both needed, as for me getting with Zeek that was my choice. My gut told me he was bad news but I allowed my broken self to swept up and romanced. He was there and I thought he could replace you in my heart but he never did, it’s always been you Day; you are the boy who holds my heart.”
Damien starts to run his fingers through my hair, it was something he did when he needed to be calm and it relaxed me as well. He opened his mouth to speak but quickly shut it. I knew what he wanted to ask and I was afraid he wouldn’t like my answer.
“Just say it, Damien. We can’t move forward if we don’t talk about this.”
“Why didn’t you try harder to tell me? I’m not mad at you but I just need to understand why?” He did have the right to know the truth.
“When I think about my actions and choices now, I don’t have a logical reason. I guess I was just scared because we had broken up and you were smack dab in the middle of war. I was already three months along when I received your note, so I packed my bags and moved into dorm room and had a plan to just live my life to the best I could. I resigned to being a single mom and going at alone. However, when I met Zeek my plans changed, I kept it hidden from him until I just couldn’t anymore. I wouldn’t have sex with him and he began to question why so I had to tell him.”
“Is that why you were engaged?” He asks.
“Yes, but it wasn’t because I wanted to be. I was so stupid Day, I just didn’t see the signs when they were waving a giant red flag in my face. I ignored them and made excuses for his behavior.”
“What happened Emily?” A hint of anger laces his tone and I don’t want to tell him, but I should.
“It wasn’t just one incident, you know that movie we had to watch in High School? The one where the girl starts dating a boy but she later finds out he’s controlling and abusive?”
“Yeah, I remember.”
“Zeek wasn’t physical until the day I called off the wedding. He was more controlling and mentally abusive. When he said he would tell every one he’s Michael father I was not okay with that because not only did it make it look like I cheated on you it also wasn’t fair to you. I wish I would have been stronger and told him to go fuck himself but I had to protect my family.”
“Baby, you proved how strong you are by just walking away. I can’t even imagine how scary that must have been for you.”
“You don’t get it though, if my Dad hadn’t of come to my rescue I would be married and letting him raise our son.”
“If that were the case Em, you know I would figure out how to get you out of it.” I shake my head as tears leak from eyes.
“It’s not your job to protect me anymore.”
“I will never stop protecting you.” I don’t want to talk about Zeek anymore so I say,
“I’m so sorry for not trying harder.”
“I get it Emily, I was a dick and didn’t give you a chance to explain.”
“I deserved it Damien, what I did was a real bitch moment and I live with my regret everyday.”
“Yes, it hurt and I was angry for it but I understand why you did it now. I fear I would have done the same if the roles were reversed.”
“Are we okay?” I ask. I expect him to say no and he hates my guts but if he did I wouldn’t be here cuddling with him.
“We will be. I need to get my shit together before I can be good for anyone. I said I want to be there for our son but the truth is I’m scared shitless of being a dad. What if I turn out to be like my Dad? What if my son hates me because I’m a shit dad? I don’t deserve to be his dad Emily, I’m not a good person anymore, I’m not the same Damien you knew a year in a half ago. I’m a broken fucking mess.”
My heart is literally in shatters and I don’t bother to hold back my own tears. “You are not your father, he was a horrible drunk who only cared about his next fix. You can’t compare yourself to that man because you are still the gentle and loving boy I fell in love with when I was just a child. You are still that protective boy who beat the crap out of anyone who hurt those you love. You are also still that passionate man who gave me this ring all those years ago.” I pull at the chain and show him the promise ring he gave me when we were sixteen years old.”
A diverse blend of pure love, sheer adoration, and a hint of pained regret flash on his handsome face, restrained in hesitation. Lyrics to a song by Pink play in my head and I know what it is I need to tell Damien.
“Day, you are not broken, you’re bent and you can learn to be whole again.” Day shakes his head.
“You don’t get it Emily, I’ve done things that I can’t get out of my head and the horror of my actions haunt me everyday. I don’t think I will ever be whole again, so this is what you get with me. I can’t give you this happy family you crave, even when you wanted it before I couldn’t give it to you. I love you so much Emily but I can’t do this.” Tears well up in my eyes because I know he’s trying to push me away again, but Damien is just going to have to accept that I’m going to push back even more.
I’m not going to let him drown in his darkness, just like Brooklyn won’t let Dan. Day has always been my hero, so now it’s my turn to be his. I sit up and turn my body in my seat, then take his hand in mine.
“Day, look at me?” He turns his head towards the window and pretends to watch the clouds as we fly past them. “Damien, look at me!” Finally he swivels his head and when his ice cream topping eyes meet me, I feel like I’ve been sucker punched. The depth of sadness and regret is so evident and it’s in them that I truly know he’s hurting. He doesn’t want me to see him like this, he’s always been so strong and never let weakness get to him.
It’s only ever been with me and only a few times I’ve seen him crash, but he always picked me up when I fell. “Damien, I won’t begin to understand what it is you went through over there and I’m not going to push you to talk about it, but eventually you will need to. If it’s not me, then that’s fine, I understand. Please, don’t push those who love you away because you feel weak, everyone is allowed to show weakness.” I let go of his hand and cup his cheek, his scruff tickles my palm.
“Since I was six years old you were the one to catch me before I fell, literally and figuratively and I never had to experience the pain. You were and will always be my hero Damien and it crushes me to see you in so much pain. I wish I could take it all away and bring back that fun little boy who yanked on my ponytail to get my attention, and that same little boy who was so confident and said he’s going to marry me.” I see him try to hide his smirk which brings out my own smirk.
“We could go around in circles with this so I’m going to end this conversation by saying I’m not going anywhere and even if you think you can push me away I’m going to come back ten times harder. I know you need your space and time to heal so I’m not going to ask for anything but that you just try. Not for me, not for your family or even for the army but for yourself and Michael.” I stop talking and lay back down, placing my head back down on the pillow in his lap.
Every time he tries this crap I fight my need to break down. It’s exhausting and at times I wonder if it’s really worth it. My tears drop and leave small wet spots on the pillow, a small hiccup escapes when I feel his fingers play with my hair. He knows it’s something that calms me and puts me to sleep. I’m not sure if it’s because he knows I’m upset or if it’s to keep him grounded. Perhaps both.
“I shot a child.” I hear him murmur when he thinks I’m asleep and my heart completely shattered.
I couldn’t even begin tell you why I opened up to Emily, although, she did have a right to know how I was feeling in regards to our son. Our son, it feels weird when I say it but at the same time it feels right. I haven’t met the little guy yet but Emily showed me the pictures and all it took was one look to know he’s mine. I can’t wait to meet him yet, I’m terrified I’m going to fuck it all up.
Emily is wrong about me not being broken, if she only knew the things I’ve done and the lives I’ve took she would know how truly broken I am. Then again she may try to justify it by saying it’s war, it happens, and where that is true, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m a cold hearted killer. I never hesitated to pull the trigger except for that one time and I still live with the consequences of that fated day.
When I hear the soft snores and steady breathing I tell her the very thing I’ve been holding back from her. “I am broken Emily, more than you will ever know because I’m haunted by the face of the child I killed.”
I glance down and my heart stirs with how beautiful she looks when she’s sleeping. Long blond tresses spread on the pillow, her hands are folded, and tucked underneath her head. I’m jealous at how she can sleep so peacefully when every time I close my eyes I see the faces of all those I killed. I relive the nightmare over and over again and it fucking sucks.
“You don’t want to do this! I know this is scary but please put the weapon down.” The little boy shakes his head while his tears mix with the dirt and grime on his face. His hands are shaking and his body is trembling, he doesn’t want to do this anymore than I want to be standing here pointing my weapon at him.
“He’s just a kid!” I shout to the older man forcing the boy to fight in a grown up war. “How can you live with yourself?” Of course, he can’t understand a word I’m saying since he’s screaming at in Arabic. I don’t have to understand the language to know what he’s saying. He’s telling him to shoot me.
I stand there stunned as the boy puts his finger on the trigger, and I don’t flinch. I pull the trigger my trigger and fire a kill shot. The bullet flies through the boys’ heart, killing him instantly. His body drops to the ground and his blood mixes in with the brown sand. I fight back tears as I stare up at tiny lifeless body and his chocolate brown eyes opened toward the sky.
Suddenly, his eyes change to a light brown, his mocha skin turns into a cream and his whole face morphs into that of my 3 month old son.
“NO, NO, NO! How could this happen?” I drop to my knees and scoop up his tiny body into my arms.
“Damien?” Emily’s voice calls to me but I don’t see her. I feel the tips of her fingers brush against my cheek but I still don’t see her. “Damien, you need to wake up baby. It’s only a nightmare, and I’m here. You’re okay, just open your eyes.” Her soft voice sings to my like a lullaby, I slowly open my eyes and see her cornflower eyes locked on me.
“What happened? Where am I?” Emily cups my face in her palm.
“You had a nightmare and we’re still at the hospital.”
“Oh.” I take a deep breath then release allowing myself time to calm my racing heart.”
“You okay?“She asks.
“Yeah, nightmares are nothing new to me.” Her mouth turns into a frown and I hate to see her so unhappy.
“I’m so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault Em.”
“I know but I’m sorry you had to face whatever you did over there.”
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore, so please let it go.” Thankfully, she doesn’t push and lays her head back on my shoulder. Sleep won’t come easy for me after that dream so I spend the time staring at my sleeping beauty and the mother of my son. I wonder how she can be so strong for everyone when I know deep inside her she’s wanting to crumble, just as I am.